Fines for visiting websites

According to a new amendment, regulating the use of internet, Belarusians can be fined EUR 100 for visiting a banned website, among them the site of human rights organisation Viasna.

-This is another step taken by Alexander Lukashenka’s regime to suppress freedom of speech on the internet. All these measures have one goal – to silence the remaining dissident voices in Belarus, said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

The amendment regulates sanctions for breaking the Decree 60, introduced in July 2010 to control internet users. It requires all service providers to identify clients and keep their web history.

One of the reportedly banned websites is spring96.org, the site of the prominent human rights organisation Viasna. Viasna and other sites on the black list have been blocked for visitors from state companies and educational institutions but can be visited from a private computer. The black list contains, according to reports, five web sites that provide independent information: Charter97, Belaruspartisan.org, Lipkovich live journal, Prakopovich.by. Remaining sites on the black list contain pornographic material.

The authorities have also stopped the broadcasting of EuroNews and the Russian channel TNT, which were important sources of independent news for those who do not have internet access.

This is linked to several other measures taken by the regime to silence the opposition. In 2009 a new media law entered into force.  According to the law, the authorities can arbitrarily close down outlets and censor reporting.

Categories: News.
Tags: Aleksander Lukashenka, Freedom of expression, and Viasna.
Regions: Belarus.